PET TAILS: Ways for pet owners to keep dogs, cats safe in winter

Winter in Indiana is truly a wonderful time of the year. It’s also a time to think about your pet’s health and safety as temperatures drop and snow blankets the ground. Here are a few winter pet tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the next several months of cold weather.

The cold temperatures can prove fatal for pets who are left outside. Short-haired pets, kittens and puppies should be kept indoors when the temperature dips below 40 degrees. Investing in a coat for your short-haired friend could help them endure the cold temperatures better when out for a walk. Long-haired pets fare better in cold weather but should still be brought inside when the temperature drops below 20 degrees.

If you care for feral or outdoor cats, ensure they have shelter from the elements, warm bedding and plenty of accessible water. Investing in a heated water bowl is a good decision. The best bedding is straw because beds, blankets and other types of fabric retain moisture and freeze. The BCHS SPOT team can also provide free straw to any Brown County resident who needs it. You can contact them at 812-703-0797.

Ice, snow and snow melt or salt can wreak havoc on a pet’s paws. Be sure to check paws regularly for cuts, infections or blistering. Wiping your pet’s paws with a towel after going outside can help reduce dangerous chemicals from snow melt. A paw balm is relatively inexpensive and can be used to help protect your dog’s paws from the elements as well.

Another common yet dangerous chemical for pets in the winter is antifreeze. It is extremely toxic to all pets and can lead to kidney failure and death. In the event you spill antifreeze, dilute the area with water and prevent your pet from trying to lick that area.

One of the biggest winter dangers facing stray and feral cats is warm car engines. Cats love to climb up under the hoods of cars and lay on the engine for warmth. It is imperative to honk your horn or bang on the hood and wait before starting your car to avoid injuring or killing a cat that is enjoying a warm nap.

You need to watch indoor pets as well, particularly around heating sources. Wagging tails too close to a fireplace without a cover might catch on fire. Dogs and cats who chew on electric blanket cords could electrocute themselves.

Keep these tips in mind and your pet can have a safe winter, curled up under the blankets.

Brown County Humane Society